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Edgar Derby And Simon: Life, Beliefs, And Death

2219 words - 9 pages

The lives, deaths, situations, and beliefs of Edgar Derby, from the novel, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Simon, from the novel, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, are equally alike and unalike. Even though these characters are from different books, they represent the absurdity of death and the importance of speaking up for what you believe. Both of these characters live in hostile and confining environments, attempt to deliver a vital message, and are unfairly killed. Edgar Derby and Simon suffer dissimilar murderous, undeserved, and undignified deaths; however, the ideas and values that they stood for as well as the lives and experiences leading up to their sadistic deaths are similar in that they reveal the callousness and cruelty in the human heart.
Although Edgar Derby and Simon lead incredibly different lives, throughout the novels, Slaughterhouse-five and Lord of the Flies, there are many similarities, including imprisonment and being encircled by death, in the situations that ultimately lead to their deaths. In Slaughterhouse-five, Edgar Derby and some other American soldiers are in a camp in Germany for prisoners of war, this captivity is the cause of the deaths of Edgar Derby as well as some other American soldiers. When Edgar Derby and the other American prisoners of war were put in the camp with the British prisoners, Kurt Vonnegut tells us that, “They could tunnel all they pleased. They would inevitably surface within a rectangle of barbed wire, would find themselves greeted listlessly by dying Russians who spoke no English, who had no food or useful information or escape plans of their own” (118-119). This quotation describes how the Americans are trapped in a vast wasteland surrounded by dying civilians and have nowhere to go even if they were able to find a way out of the camp. This is significant because it portrays the hopelessness of the situation of the soldiers, including Edgar Derby, which helps to display his perseverance and patriotic qualities that could be considered heroic because of their rarity in the absence of hope. During this time, Edgar Derby exudes the qualities of an exemplary soldier, as the other prisoners of war, including Billy Pilgrim, “become the ready slaves of whatever anonymous bureaucracies, computers, or authoritarian institutions [that] take hold of their minds” (Broer). Due to the weak mental and physical states of many of the prisoners of war, they are easily controlled and persuaded; however, Edgar Derby and the British prisoners attempt to remind the American prisoners of their values, morals, and hygiene. Like Edgar Derby and the other American prisoners of war, the boys in Lord of the Flies are stranded with no way to return to civilization. As the boys, specifically Piggy and Ralph, find out that they are stranded on the island with no adults, Piggy says, “They’re all dead… an’ this is an island. Nobody don’t know we’re here. Your dad don’t know, nobody don’t know” (Golding...

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